Ford boosts connected commercial vehicles: Modem connected services and over-the-air updates now standard

Van driver in hi-vis vest sat in front of Ford van using connected services

Ford is making its commercial vehicles ‘connected as standard’, helping customers and their businesses to thrive by boosting productivity, maximising uptime, and staying at the forefront of technology.

The FordPass Connect modem is now fitted as standard across the seven core products in Ford’s commercial vehicle line-up, including Ford Transit, Transit Custom and Ranger. FordPass Connect connected services, which enable a range of remote productivity and convenience features via the FordPass Pro smartphone app, have now been made complimentary for owners across Europe. 1

FordPass Connect has also enabled over-the-air (OTA) software updates to keep commercial vehicles current with new technology by wirelessly delivering new features and quality enhancements. 2

Guard Mode, a new security system accessed through the FordPass Pro app, will be the first new feature to be activated by an OTA update. 3 This heightened-security mode will – when it becomes available later in 2020 – monitor commercial vehicles in real time, alerting owners of any potential breaches in their security.

“Connectivity is the cornerstone of our mission to deliver smart vehicles for a smart world. We recently produced our 100,000th connected commercial vehicle, and expect to deliver our millionth within the next three years,” said Mark Harvey, director, Commercial Vehicle Mobility, Ford of Europe. “We are leading the way with a wealth of innovative new connected vehicle solutions designed to help our customers thrive – no matter how tough the road ahead.” 4

FordPass Connect technology

The FordPass Connect modem wirelessly connects Ford vehicles to the internet, enabling them to benefit from OTA updates and app-connected services including FordPass Pro, as well as integration with telematics solutions such as Ford Telematics and Data Services.

Previously a specification option across many Ford commercial vehicle lines, the FordPass Connect modem is now factory-fitted as standard to all Ford Transit, Transit Custom, Tourneo Custom, Transit Connect, Tourneo Connect, Fiesta Van and Ranger vehicles. Fleet customers for the Transit Courier will be able to access Ford telematics subscription services only using an aftermarket plug-in modem. 5

The FordPass Connect modem subscription has now been made complimentary for drivers across Europe. 1 One of the features to make use of this always-on connected vehicle technology is the FordPass Pro smartphone app. Revealed last year, the FordPass Pro app is dedicated to meeting the needs of small business customers, enabling them to manage, monitor and control up to five Ford commercial vehicles from a single phone screen.

For larger fleet customers, Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services offer a comprehensive paid connected vehicle solution to help manage vehicle uptime and improve efficiency, enabling access to vehicle data and integration into third-party fleet management systems.

Over-the-air updates

Regular software updates help ensure that vehicle systems and components continue to operate with optimum safety and performance.

Now, with OTA updates, Ford can deliver to commercial vehicle customers new features and quality enhancements silently, seamlessly and as soon as they are ready – without requiring a visit to a dealer or service centre.

FordPass Pro Guard Mode

Guard Mode is a heightened-security system accessed via the FordPass Pro app. It provides real-time monitoring to alert drivers, owner operators and small fleet managers whenever there are potential security breaches within their vehicles.

Once activated – for example after work hours or over the weekend – Guard Mode will detect whenever anybody enters a vehicle, opens the bonnet or starts the engine, and will send a push notification to the owner’s smartphone. The system also provides additional security against key theft or cloning, alerting if a vehicle is unlocked or started using a key – an action that would not trigger a conventional vehicle alarm.

Guard Mode will be rolled out to commercial vehicle customers using FordPass Pro across Europe this year and, for current owners, will be the first new feature to be activated by an OTA software update.

Van driver in hi-vis vest stood in front of Ford van using connected services

On-the-go productivity with SYNC 3 with AppLink

To further support business customers, Ford partners with market-leading online services to provide access to productivity enhancing applications while on the move. Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system with AppLink enables drivers to safely and conveniently interact with smartphone apps using the large in-vehicle touch display and intuitive voice commands. 6

Ford pass app on mobile phone screen

Alongside support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SYNC 3 with AppLink allows supported smartphone apps to offer a more integrated in-vehicle experience for Ford commercial vehicle users. SYNC 3 now enables wireless smartphone connectivity for AppLink apps using Bluetooth. Existing AppLink partners include popular navigation services such as what3words, Waze and Sygic Truck Navigation, while Cisco Webex helps drivers stay connected to colleagues and clients wherever they are.

The latest partner to join the AppLink family is Braintoss, a productivity app that helps drivers organise their thoughts on the move, with features including speech-to-text transcriptions that can be sent directly to an email inbox or a task manager app.

Leadership in commercial vehicles

Ford continues to be the No. 1 commercial vehicle brand in Europe, with market share growing to 15 per cent during the first quarter of 2020. 7 In 2019 Ford introduced a new generation of electrified and connected Transit and Transit Custom vans developed to help customer thrive in a modern operating environment. The Transit Custom Hybrid range – including Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid and EcoBlue Hybrid – has been named International Van of the Year 2020.

1 Complimentary FordPass Connect modem subscription available to new and existing vehicles equipped with a FordPass Connect modem. Live Traffic and Local Hazard Information features require a separate paid subscription after an initial complimentary trial; use of Wi-Fi Hotspot requires purchase of a data bundle. Future value-added services may require a paid-for subscription

2 Available to vehicles fitted with an activated FordPass Connect modem. Over-the-air maintenance and feature updates will be included for the duration of the vehicle’s warranty term

3 Guard Mode feature will be activated by an OTA software update for owners of existing vehicles with an activated FordPass Connect modem who are using the FordPass Pro app, and will be installed as standard on new vehicles. FordPass Pro app available in the following European countries: Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Poland

4 Projected commercial vehicle deliveries across Ford of Europe “EU20” markets comprising: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland

5 Transit Courier plug-in device available as an aftermarket fitment from July 2020

6 SYNC 3 feature available as an option. Don’t drive while distracted. Use voice-operated systems when possible; don’t use handheld devices while driving. Some features may be locked out while the vehicle is in gear. Not all features are compatible with all phones.

7 Based upon first quarter sales 2020. Ford of Europe reports sales for its 20 European traditional markets where it is represented through National Sales Companies: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland